During a difficult moment during the Supreme Court confirmation hearing, Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz ripped into Illinois Democrat Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin.
After going overtime, Durbin sought to interrupt Cruz’s questioning of Supreme Court candidate Ketanji Brown Jackson on her record of sentencing child pornography offenders. Cruz was not pleased with this and made his feelings known.
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Senator Cruz went on to say, “So that’s quite a bit.” 6,700 children have been sexually assaulted, which is a significant number. Mr. Chairman, you’ve taken over a minute of my time, therefore —” and was then interrupted by Durbin, who stated, “You’ve been given more time.”
You generally ask for it, and then you give it.” “OK, I know you want to interrupt,” Senator Cruz swiftly said. “I realize you don’t like this line of questioning —” Durbin interrupted him again, adding, “I simply want you to follow the rules.”
Senator Cruz said, “I know you like to interrupt, but you can assume the substantial question — time of my questioning, and I’m going to ask my questions and you can — if you want to testify, you’re welcome to. Judge —“ to which Durbin again interrupted by saying, “Senator, you play to the same rules as every other senator.”
Cruz responded, “— In the Stewart case, you said from the bench: ‘Thus, although this is not necessarily an atypical case, your child pornography possession crime was egregious in the court’s view.’ Okay, so this is a bad one. If you’re actually sentencing defendants, you said this was egregious. What did you sentence Stewart for? The guidelines said 97-121 months. Prosecutor said 97 months, you said it’s egregious. 6,700 images, you come in 57 months. (crosstalk)”
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“Time has elapsed,” Durbin said, interrupting the conversation. Senator, you’ve gone two minutes over your time limit —”. “Why did you sentence him to only 57 months in the Stewart case?” Cruz questioned.
Do you want to talk about it? Because you say you’re cherry-picking. You’re allowed to discuss any of these examples, but let’s start with Stewart. Why did you just give him half the punishment?” “Senator Coons,” Durbin said. Senator, you’re not well-known. Senator Coons,” he says. “You don’t want to answer that question?” Cruz asked. “You wouldn’t let her anyhow,” Durbin responded.
Cruz said, “Mr.. Chairman, she may answer the question. I’ve asked her why she sentenced Stewart at egregious —“ Durbin said, “You’ve gone over the time, Senator, by two minutes.”
Cruz said, “Because you interrupted me for two minutes, Mr.. Chairman. Will you allow her to answer the question? Or do you not want the American people to hear why, with someone she described as an egregious —“
“There comes a point, Senator, where you become a little bit —,” Durbin remarked. “Will you allow her to answer the question, Chairman Durbin?” Cruz asked. “You won’t let her answer the question,” Durbin replied.
“I will gladly allow her,” Cruz remarked. “Why?” is the question. “Senator Coons, you may proceed,” Durbin responded. “Did you sentence Stewart, an awful pedophile, to half of the sum sought by the prosecutor?” Cruz said. “Please, Senator,” Durbin replied. “Will you allow her to answer the question, Chairman Durbin?” Cruz asked. “Senator Coons?” Durbin inquired.
“Why are you not allowing her to answer the question?” Cruz said. There isn’t another senator here who hasn’t been given the opportunity to respond to the question. Chairman Durbin, I’m not going to ask you another question; instead, let her to respond to the one you just asked.”
“Thank you, Chairman Durbin,” Coons replied. “Why don’t you want the American people to know what occurred in the Stewart case?” Cruz said. Or any of the following scenarios? I’ve never seen Chairman Durbin refuse to allow a witness to respond to a question. You are free to hammer it as hard as you want.” “I can simply tell you,” Durbin replied, “at some time you have to follow the rules.”
“All right, will you let her answer the question?” Cruz asked. You’ve been interrupting — and it went 10 minutes over with Senator Graham. You’ve consumed a significant amount of time. Will you let her respond to the question?”
“You’ve given her —,” Durbin said. “Why are you terrified of her?” Cruz said. “She’s allowed to address it right now.” “Are you going to allow her?” “Senator Coons?” Durbin inquired. “Will you let — so no?” Cruz asked. You don’t want her to respond to the question, do you?”
“Senator Coons,” Durbin said. “Will you let her answer the question?” Cruz asked. “Chairman Durbin —,” Coons said. “We appear to be quite terrified of the American people hearing the answer to that question,” Cruz added.